EDINBURG — Two men accused of killing a Progreso man over a debt were formally arraigned in state District Court earlier this week, according to court records.
Ramiro Lopez-Garcia Jr. and Adalberto Mosqueda Guardado were formally arraigned in connection with the April shooting death of Gilberto Garces.
Lopez-Garcia, 44, of Progreso, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of capital murder. District Judge Israel Ramon Jr. also granted a motion to reduce his bond from $1 million to $200,000, according to court records.
Guardado, who appeared for his formal arraignment on Monday, also pleaded not guilty to the capital murder charge.
On April 7 passersby riding ATVs discovered Garces near a cornfield in the area of Farm-to-Market Road 491 just south of Mercedes, who was found with his hands bound and with at least one gunshot wound to the head.
In a call placed just before 3:15 p.m. April 6, Garces told a family member he was on his way to collect money from Lopez-Garcia, the owner of the Mid Valley Tire Shop, according to the criminal complaint.
“Gilberto told family members he was going to the tire shop to get some money from a friend but that Gilberto no longer answered his phone after that,” states the complaint.
Lopez-Garcia, who was arrested nearly two weeks after the discovery of Garces’ body, initially told investigators he had not seen or heard from Garces in more than three weeks, but evidence collected from the shop proved otherwise, including video that showed Garces and Lopez-Garcia speaking on April 6, the day before his body was found, according to court records.
“Sheriff’s investigators recovered physical evidence and a surveillance DVR which contained footage showing Ramiro Lopez-Garcia talking to Gilberto next to a green four-door truck inside the tire shop on April 6, 2016, at approximately 3:24 p.m.,” the complaint states.
Also seen in the footage was Lopez-Garcia’s employee and the second person arrested in connection with the investigation, Guardado, according to the criminal complaint.
Guardado, 36, of Progreso, was identified as the owner of the green truck and arrested a week after Lopez-Garcia.
Officials with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office said investigators believe Garces’ demand for money may be connected to a drug deal between the men.
Video surveillance also captured Guardado following Garces’ vehicle in his green four-door truck at 3:42 p.m., April 6. Garces was seen driving south of Highway 83 on Dawson Street, in the direction of where his body was discovered a day later, according to the criminal complaint.
Guardado’s vehicle was then seen a short time later, heading back in the direction of the tire shop, the complaint states.
Sheriff’s officials announced in early May arrest warrants for two other men, Maurisio Vidal-Olivo, 26, and Sergio Cavazos Medrano, 38, in connection with Garces’ shooting death. They remain on the loose.
Both men remain in custody at the Hidalgo County Jail, according to the jail records.
A pre-trial hearing for Lopez-Garcia is set for July 13, while Guardado is scheduled to appear for his hearing July 14, according to court records.
If convicted of the capital murder charge, Lopez-Garcia and Guardado face up to life in prison.